TWISTER Director Jan de Bont on the Film’s First 4K Remaster, Bill Paxton, and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Twisters might be spinning into theaters this summer, but before it does fans will get a chance to see the the original 1996 film in an all-new way. The first-ever 4K Ultra HD version of Twister is now available in stores and on digital platforms. What does this new, upgraded remaster offer viewers? To find out, Nerdist spoke to the man who oversaw both the film and this restoration, director Jan de Bont. He talked to us about the challenges of making the film nearly 30 years ago, why Twister‘s tornadoes have never looked more believable, and the greatness of Bill Paxton and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Nerdist: It’s been 30 years since you started working on Twister. How have your own feelings and opinions about the movie changed since the day it premiered in theaters?

Jan de Bont: After this transfer, I think it almost could be re-released, because I was able to make so many really positive changes to the visuals, the color, the depths, and the soundtrack, the kind of amazing surround soundtrack you feel at home. It’s almost a better experience than in the theater. I don’t want to compare the two, because it’s a completely different thing, of course. In the theater you also have the reaction of people. But as an individual or with your family, it becomes really personal. You have a direct connection with the screen.

And the quality right now is also better than it was in the theater. The quality is so high. It’s much sharper, it’s much more focused. I see many more colors. There’s much more detail in the darkness that didn’t exist before and didn’t exist on film, either.

Directro Jan de Bont in a white hat looks through a camera lens while filming Twister
Warner Bros. Discovery

Were there any aspects of the movie that you weren’t totally, 100% happy with back then that you are totally on board with now?

de Bont: Yeah, because I was able to do those changes. [laughs] I hate when you have to actually develop a whole new technology to make things visible and make them look real and authentic. It’s a long process. One tornado would take months for a couple of animators to do. Then those would have to be transferred. The rendering of one shot would take 24 hours. Just for one single shot. And we had 300 plus shots and the time was close. We had to start right away. We knew when [the film] was going to be released and we had to work up against that day. And since the technology didn’t always work, we had to just try again and again.

I was very happy to finally be able to correct the issues that I saw. But I think everybody would see them too, if you saw it many times. I wanted to really integrate all those different elements much better. At the time it wasn’t even really possible, the way I would have liked it.

A red pickup truck parked on a street as a tornado comes near in Twister
Warner Bros. Discovery

Which scene or moment would you say is the most enhanced by this 4K Ultra Hi-Def version?

de Bont: All the tornado scenes. Almost all of them. Because it’s not like you’re looking at one thing only. It’s not like with the first one you look at the tornado and then there’s a landscape around it. Now the tornado is actually in the landscape. I was able, with the transitions from the visual effects to the live action and the sometimes special effects on the foreground, to make it look like one. For me that was so important. That makes this kind of new transfer so unique. I think it’s really, really incredible. High quality. It’s really amazing.

We’re talking a lot about the visuals and obviously it’s a very visual movie, but that’s not the only reason Twister is so beloved. It also has a really amazing cast led by the late Bill Paxton. Three decades later, what stands out the most about working with him?

de Bont: From day one he was on the set, he became an actual storm chaser. He really completely believed in it and he started speaking their language. He used lingo that the chasers used nonstop. Words I’d never even heard of. [I was] like, “Oh, well that sounds good. If it’s true, he can actually do that.” Almost phonetic. He was really so into his character. You cannot direct an actor like that. I mean, he did it himself. It was really fantastic to see that. I was so happy with him.

Bill Paxton, Jan de Bont, and Helen Hunt behind the scenes on Twister
Warner Bros. Discovery

He also felt a little bit like a leader, to keep that whole team together as a personality. That whole group feeling and how great they talk together. The banter between them. Everybody jumps in whenever. I never intervened when the actors jumped on somebody else’s line, because that to me was real. I said, “No, it’s fine. It’s crazy. It’s better.” And Bill was really good at that too. And he interrupted all the time, so it was really great. [laughs loudly] That was really funny. Really. I mean, the movie wouldn’t be like that without him, that’s for sure.

You also cast the late Philip Seymour Hoffman during the early part of his career, I think before everyone realized he was one of the greatest actors alive. What was it like to direct someone that talented in a role that I would imagine on the page read much smaller than he made it on the screen?

de Bont: It was actually really little on the screen (originally), because a lot of the dialogue still had to be written. And when I saw him, it was like the dialogue became almost automatic. He kind of instigated what he was going to say in combination with what I wanted him to say. But it became so natural. He was just laid back, incredibly laid back. Fun, almost over-the-top at times. A grand actor that really brought so much lightness to the movie, and that was so needed. And he was so good at that. He made it so easy, doing something that people thought was very funny to watch. He was absolutely brilliant.

Philip Seymour Hoffman screams out a moving truck window in Twister
Warner Bros. Discovery

I mean, I was afraid that nobody wanted to play the part. Because on the page it’s like, “Dusty work for me to today,” and it’s like, “Oh God.” But the way he arrived, I always bring that up because it was so amazing to me. He arrived on the very last day of casting. We still hadn’t found anyone. And he arrived, sloppy himself. Baggy pants, loose shirts, wild hair. And I said, “That’s exactly what it should be.” It was so funny. I mean, maybe he already saw the character when he read that. Maybe he already saw what he could do with it. And he did, and he totally lifted the movie. I mean, he was clearly a brilliant talent.

The new Twister 4K UHD from Warner Bros. Discovery is now available in stores, online, and on digital.

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